[Weird shuffling around in the background with a few fist pumps and grunts thrown in.]
Alright, I’m back. I just stood up and did an Irish jig (isn’t that what the kids are calling it these days?!). You see, my beloved Virginia Cavaliers won the College World Series this week. I’m still running on adrenaline fumes this morning. I’m gonna tell you the story of this year’s Cavaliers. If you hate sports, just skip to the last few paragraphs. If not, let me get you caught up.
In 2001, the athletics program at the University of Virginia (UVA) put together a task force aimed at cleaning up their athletic programs—one that was losing money on a yearly basis. They formulated a tiered system based on prognosis of long-term success, and several teams—baseball, tennis, golf, wrestling, and track and field—made up the lowest tier possible. They were headed for the chopping block. In came John Grisham—yes that John Grisham. He has a house (mansion) in Charlottesville, a few miles from the grounds of UVA. He’s been a lifelong baseball fan who once had a dream of being a professional baseball player. When that didn’t work out, he stroked a massive check to the UVA baseball program to build a new stadium and recharge the masses (think AED machine). The Hoos were on their way.
Fast forward to last year, when UVA was one win away from winning it all, after which they lost multiple players to the MLB draft, returning with only a core of the team this year. With a preseason No. 1 ranking, there were high expectations for the team to return to the glory land of Omaha—the annual site of the College World Series. Torn rotator cuffs, a broken back, and a strained lat muscle later, they found themselves down to so few players midway through the season that they couldn’t even scrimmage. They recruited some intramural/club team players just so they could practice. They barely made their conference tournament and then quietly went on one of the more improbable runs in recent college sports history.
This week, they dog piled on the pitcher’s mound after beating Vanderbilt University for the crown. How’s that for prognosis of long-term success?! The tennis team won the National Championship this year, too—kudos!
OK, non-sports fans, you can come back from watching your Kardashians now. This year’s UVA team was a lesson in hard work, perseverance, and trust in the system—an overall team-first mentality. This is where the dentistry part comes in. A practice cannot get through the daily, weekly, yearly grind without every single person on board. From the patient care coordinator to the assistants, hygienists, and doctor, if the position players aren’t ALL IN, you aren’t making it to Omaha.
For a long time, our practice ran “by the seat of its (pretty successful) pants.” As we’ve grown, we’ve had to tighten the reigns a little bit, gather the herd from pasture, if you will. Set ground rules: systemize everything from lab organization and ordering to treatment planning and presentation. Without it, we’d have gone crazy by now. Certainly we wouldn’t have made our conference tournament.
We aren’t to the glory land yet, but we’re headed there with a “team first” mentality. We have our eyes set on being the best we can be, and our prognosis for long-term success is good. We won’t need John Grisham anytime soon, though I wouldn’t mind a new backyard stadium if he’s offering!
Donald Murray III, DMD